Plans for students to sit half their Irish and English Leaving Cert papers at the end of fifth year have been shelved following stiff opposition from teachers and students.
The move, announced last year, was among the first of a series of planned changes to overhaul the Senior Cycle.
According to the Irish Examiner, Minister for Education Norma Foley is expected to update Cabinet on Tuesday about delaying the change, which would have seen students sitting paper 1 of both Irish and English exams in fifth year from next summer.
It is understood that Department of Education officials were told that students entering fifth year this September experienced major disruption to their education throughout the pandemic.
Concerns were also raised that current transition year students could be disadvantaged by the move.
The minister and her officials will now spend the next few months working on how to implement the change.
Announcing plans to reform Senior Cycle last year, Ms Foley said the proposed changes aimed to “reduce the pressure on students that comes from final assessments based primarily on examinations”.
Under the plans, written exams will eventually be worth no more than 60 per cent of a student’s final grade in every subject.
The interim move to spilt up the English and Irish paper, while ‘banking’ marks and adding them to Paper 2 at the end of sixth year, was intended to ease the burden of assessment in the meantime.
However, it attracted strong criticism from teachers who warned it would have unintended consequences for the teaching and learning of both subjects.
The Irish National Organisation of English Teachers (INOTE) warned that students would be disadvantaged by having to sit Paper 1 in fifth year as the skills examined in the subject are developmental.
It also warned that students could feel under pressure to commit to a level of examination far earlier than usual, as many may be unwilling to “chance” the higher-level paper early.
An Gréasán do Mhúinteoirí Gaeilge, the subject association for Irish teachers, and Gael Linn also called on the department and the minister to shelve the plans, warning there is no "no educational or linguistic basis for this decision."
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), and Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) also all expressed serious concerns about the move.